Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said Saturday she was “shaken” by President Donald Trump’s threat about unleashing “vicious dogs” on people protesting the death of George Floyd, saying it called up associations of segregationist violence.
On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted that protesters at the White House Friday night would have been met with the “most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” if they had managed to breach the fence. “That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least,” he wrote.
In response, Bowser called Trump’s comments “an attack on humanity” and “an attack on Black America.”
Bowser said at a press briefing that Trump’s reference to “vicious dogs” was “no subtle reminder to African Americans of segregationists who let dogs out on women, children and innocent people in the South.” Bowser said she and others are “just shaken that an American president would utter such words about his fellow Americans.”
“What used to be heard in dog whistles, we now hear from a bullhorn,” she said.
People are “tired, sad, angry and desperate for change” amid America’s continuing racism, she said. “We need leaders who recognize this pain, and in times of great turmoil and despair can provide us a sense of calm, and a sense of hope.”
Instead, what the White House offered was “the glorification of violence against American citizens,” Bowser added.
Protests and demonstrations have occurred across the U.S. this week after Floyd, who was Black, died in the custody of Minneapolis police on Monday. A white police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as Floyd struggled to breathe. The officer was fired and, later, arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Trump called protesters “THUGS” in a tweet this week and warned that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” It was the same language a Miami police chief used in 1967 when threatening violence against Black males. Twitter veiled Trump’s message for “glorifying violence.”
Trump also claimed that Bowser, who is Black, failed to mobilize metro police to aid the Secret Service in protecting the White House, which was briefly shut down during Friday’s protests. “The D.C. Mayor, who is always looking for money & help, wouldn’t let the D.C. Police get involved,” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s own Secret Service contradicted his accusation. Officials issued a statement saying that both the “Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Park Police were on the scene” during Friday’s protest.
Bowser said local police “were doing their jobs from the start” and coordinated with the Secret Service as well as U.S. Park Police. She emphasized that “at no time was the chief of police concerned about losing control of protest activity.”
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said he supplied Secret Service officers with equipment they did not have, including riot helmets.
Check out Bowser’s comments on Trump’s tweets in the video up top. Her reaction to his tweets, in response to a reporter’s question, begins at 14:15.